Maldini believes Milan can achieve all season aims and reveals UCL draw preference

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan director Paolo Maldini has reacted to last night’s events in London as the Rossoneri booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in 11 years.

It was a memorable night for the team as they battled hard for a 0-0 draw that meant Brahim Diaz’s goal in the first leg was enough to end the wait to return to the final eight of European club football’s top competition.

Maldini spoke to Milan TV from the team hotel after the game to reflect on a big achievement by a young squad, also revealing his preference for the draw that will come next Friday from UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon.

“There’s a sense of satisfaction and pride. We’re delighted with how far we’ve come. We spoke about our journey before the game and how we’ve arrived at this point,” he began.

“Obviously we can’t think that we’re now a stable fixture in the last eight. This certainly isn’t the case yet. However, now that we’re here we’ll go for it because you need to take opportunities when you get them.

“We need to remember what happened to us in January, where we lost a bit of confidence and became a bit disjointed. A clinical edge was lacking and we conceded a lot of goals. We didn’t concede against Tottenham across two legs and produced two focused and mature performances. I think this is the main thing.

“The fact we did this at San Siro was fantastic, but replicating it here against a great side at such a prestigious ground is a clear sign that we’ve become more mature.

“You suffer more as a director, but your focus is different. I’m older now and when you’re older, you’re able to manage things better. I once again felt those goosebumps that were provided by AC Milan in the past because tonight was a real achievement.

“I have to say that we deserved it, the lads deserved it. It’s the first time that some of them have experienced this level. The fans deserve it. They have always been there, including in the difficult times.

“Last season’s Scudetto made the extraordinary become almost a habit. We’re used to it, but we have to remember where we started from. An accustomed city, a club and fans accustomed to certain levels accelerate the growth and maturation of many kids.

“Each of them [the players] has a different story. Those who started these three or four years ago with us told a story, a project and we never told lies about what the project was and we asked certain things of them. They have been good at confirming our expectations.”

On Pioli: “You understand from the first month whether it can work or not. We understood each other immediately, there are no communication problems between us. He has always been a perfect communicator and a great coach. In difficult moments, the nature of a man is evaluated and with Stefano we are at very high levels.

“We needed to find a certain amount of stability and balance, which I think is the bedrock of a football team, and we needed to keep our objectives in mind. We can still achieve them all. Apart from the Supercoppa after the defeat to Inter and the Coppa Italia, the aim is to finish in the top four and we wanted to progress from our group in Europe.

On the month of January: “We played without our goalkeeper, who is one of the best in Europe, but who replaced him did well. We are here thanks to players who are often criticised. Let’s talk about Krunic. He was often criticised in his first two or three years with Milan, but we believed in him because we could see his quality.

“He’s of a very high level. Nevertheless, he still think he has to make that step up that he’s capable of. There are plenty of examples of players that gave so much but which were crticised at the beginning – not to mention Sandro Tonali – they have to concentrate on what they have to do, we have to make assessments.”

On the quarter-finals: “I’d prefer to avoid an Italian team, but if they were to get through I’d be happy for Italian football. At this point whoever arrives, arrives. We can’t think we’re at the level of Bayern, City or Real.”

Finally, on Galbiati who passed away this week: “Any footballer should have an Italo Galbiati in his career. He was in love with the team, he had a passion for trying to improve the players. His enthusiasm was contagious, but he gave so much to many guys who passed through Milan.”


Tags AC Milan Paolo Maldini
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